A superconducting qubit can be used to reliably detect the presence of multiple phonons at the same time, US physicists have demonstrated. Patricio Arrangoiz-Arriola and colleagues at Stanford University built their “quantum microphone” using materials that minimized phonon losses, while narrowing the spectra of their qubit’s emissions to reduce uncertainties. The technology could allow for new capabilities in quantum computing, including modems that link together many quantum computers at different locations.

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